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College Hockey:
Black Bears Score Four On Power Play, Top Wildcats

UNH's Ayers, Haydar Injured

— There were two distinct halves in Friday’s game which saw the sixth-ranked Maine Black Bears knock off the second-ranked New Hampshire Wildcats 6-3 at Alfond Arena. There was the half before UNH goalie Michael Ayers got hurt, and then there was the half after.

Through the first half of the game, both teams played even, bone-crunching hockey, with Ayers making some huge saves. But with 9:22 left in the second period, the complexion of the game completely changed.

After making a save and attempting to cover the rebound, there was a scramble in front of Ayers. As he sprawled out to cover the puck, he was stepped on and a skate blade slashed the top of his right wrist. The result was a deep cut, severing at least one tendon. He was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for heavy stitches.

“When the goalie went down, that changed things,” UNH coach Dick Umile said, whose team fell to 19-5-2, 11-3-2 in Hockey East. “We weren’t expecting that, but Timmy [Collins] did a good job.” Collins made 21 saves in 29:22 of action.

“I was thinking on the bus trip that I was one injury away from playing [in a game] at Maine,” Collins said after the game. “I’ve been a college hockey fan all my life, so I knew that would mean a lot.”

“I think they didn’t have the jump after [the Ayers injury],” said Maine sophomore forward Todd Jackson, who had three assists on the night, all on the power play. “They looked a little down.”

“I think they didn’t have the jump after [the Ayers injury],” said Maine sophomore forward Todd Jackson, who had three assists on the night, all on the power play. “They looked a little down.”

“I think it was a factor,” said Maine interim head coach Tim Whitehead of the Ayers injury. His team is now 16-7-4, 10-3-2 in Hockey East. “I like how we played. We were consistent, but the game was up for grabs. The score is deceiving.”

Ayers is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. That means he that Matt Carney, who sustained a concussion on January 13 against Providence at the Whittemore Center, will have to suit up as the backup tomorrow night for Collins, according to Umile. Carney’s return will be two weeks earlier than originally planed.

To compound UNH’s injury problems, the nation’s leading scorer, Darren Haydar, went down with an ankle injury in midway through the first period. He didn’t return to the game until the second, but only played sparingly for the remainder. His status is questionable for tomorrow’s rematch.

Maine opened the scoring with the first of four power-play goals 3:27 into the game. Defenseman Prestin Ryan did the trick on a slapper that deflected over Ayers’ right shoulder.

UNH’s Josh Prudden answered back only eight seconds later.

“It popped loose off the face off,” Prudden said. “Lanny [Gare] tied their winger up and I got it. I was just trying to get a shot on net, but it found the upper corner.”

Colin Hemingway scored his 20th of the year to put UNH up at 11:01 on a wrister that banked in off the right post, just over the glove of Maine goalie, Mike Morrison.

Another power-play goal, this time from Tom Reimann, would tie things again with only 28 seconds left in the first. He pinched and found a loose puck. He shot it through traffic and beat Ayers high to the glove side.

David Busch’s one-timer from Sean Collins put the Wildcats ahead again only 1:58 into the second, but a fantastic individual effort by freshman Ben Murphy tied things again.

Murphy found a loose puck in the right face off circle. He made a move around two defenseman to get to the middle, forcing Ayers out of the crease. He then deked, to his backhand, putting Ayers on the ice. He moved it around him and slid the puck into the crease, where Paul Falco tapped it in for his first collegiate goal at 10:04 of the second.

The Ayers injury came only 24 seconds after that, forcing Tim Collins, the senior third-string goalie whom had only seen nine minutes and 35 seconds of action all year, off the bench into a hostile environment.

Maine immediately picked up its offensive pressure and was rewarded 2:05 later. Lucas Lawson brought puck in the zone down the left wing on a two-on-one. He hit Martin Kariya in front of the net, who one-timed it on net. Collins stopped the original shot, but kicked the rebound right back to Kariya. He didn’t miss the second time, putting it five-hole for a 4-3 advantage.

Niko Dimitrakos put the game away with the third power-play tally for Maine with 54 seconds left in the period.

“Jackson had the puck down low and I called for it,” Dimitrakos said. “I walked out of the corner and shot it five-hole.” The shot deflected off of Collin’s pad and into the net. It was Jackson’s third assist of the game.

“I just got lucky,” Jackson said. “I was in the right place at the right time. They were all on the power play, and I just deflected some pucks.”

In the third, UNH let their emotions get carried away, and starting racking up the penalty minutes. When all was said and done, UNH was shorthanded 11 times for the game, while Maine was only shorthanded twice.

“That’s very uncharacteristic,” Prudden said. “We were taking some dumb penalties. As long as I’ve been here, we’ve been one of the least penalized teams in the league. We didn’t have our heads screwed on straight.”

Lawson added one more power-play goal 15:28 into the third for the final score of 6-3.

“We have to put this behind us and play like we can,” Prudden said of tomorrow’s series finale. “We can’t let the crowd, or the referees, take us out of it. We have to come in and play like we know how, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

“These are type of games you come to Maine for,” Jackson said. “The crowd got us going. We worked hard on the power play all week and it paid off. I expect that [UNH] will come hard tomorrow because of that.”

The two will meet again tomorrow at Alfond Arena. Face off is at 7:00 p.m.

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